Financier Martin Armstrong pleaded guilty to criminal charges Thursday after spending six years in a New York jail for civil contempt.
Armstrong, a former money manager and the founder of Princeton Economics International, was accused of defrauding Japanese investors out of hundreds of millions of dollars. He pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit securities fraud, an offense punishable by up to five years in prison, U.S. District Judge John Keenan said at a hearing in Manhattan.
Armstrong was jailed in January 2000 by the judge overseeing an SEC civil suit after he failed to surrender $14.9 million in gold and rare coins. Armstrong said he didn't have them. No one has spent more time in jail for civil contempt of a federal court order.
"I knew at the time that I was deceiving the investors," Armstrong told the judge.
Keenan said he hadn't decided whether to credit Armstrong for his time behind bars on the contempt citation when he's sentenced for conspiracy.
Armstrong's reputation was built on his theory that economic cycles recur over centuries. From an office overlooking Tokyo's Imperial Palace, his now-defunct New Jersey-based firm managed $3 billion for Japanese investors.
U.S. authorities said Armstrong hid huge trading losses by using funds from new investors to pay old ones.